Bonny Doon Goes Biodynamic

Randall Graham is embracing biodynamics and Bonny Doon is now on its way to certification with Demeter. Bonny Doon has also started putting ingredient labels on their wines in an effort towards “complete transparency.” So, along with grapes, you may see tartaric acid, untoasted wood chips and copper sulfate printed on your bottle.

The OWJ gang took a selection of these wines on a recent getaway and here are our notes.

2008 Albarino Ca’ Del Solo Estate Vineyard, Monterey

The nose is fresh like the sea. It’s graceful, if a little disjointed. Acid in one place, fruit in another. Nice lemon finish with tart acidity. Should go well ceviche, sushi or shrimp cocktail.

2007 Le Cigar Blanc, Beeswax Vineyard

Fresh creamy nose, with confectionary subtext. Rich, full bodied with brown spice and oak notes.

2008 Muscat Ca’ Del Solo Estate Vineyard. Monterey

Light frisky muscat nose. Does it taste like a muscat? It’s more of a muscat lite. Low sugar, nice balance though you wish for a little more acid.

2008 Vin Gris De Cigare

This Rosé smells great, like strawberries and earth. Nice simple wine that could use a little more drive.

2005 Le CIgar Volant

Great intensity. Ripe berry nose. Woodsy. Youthful for an 05 wine. Elegant. Tannins still kicking but integrating. Will be great in a couple of years. Good length. Subtle boysenberry finish. Great for grilled meats or roasted chickens.

The wines reviewed were provided to us by Bonny Doon Vineyard.


6 responses to “Bonny Doon Goes Biodynamic”

  1. I’m a big fan of Bonny Doon’s biodynamic and bio-transitional wines. They’re elegant, with tremendous presence and subtlety, and they bewitchingly change in the glass and over the course of the evening. Personally, I find the Vin Gris a light spirit undergirded by something quite serious, so I’m surprised you find it simple and lacking drive. Try a few more bottles, letting it warm a bit and giving it elbow room. It’s got something often lacking in pink wine: gravitas.

  2. (Most) any press is good press, and far be it for me to cavil with another’s tasting’s notes. One man’s ciliegiolo is another one’s flor. But I would suggest that at the very least, the Albarino is perhaps more harmonious than the OWJ gang would lead one to believe. One artifact of biodynamic wines that tends to be reinforced by their bottling in screwcaps is that they tend to be strongly anti-oxidative, which is another way of saying slightly “reductive,” which is another way of saying slightly backward upon opening. All “real” wines need to be given time to open up and show the changes that they are capable of. I of course know nothing about the methodology of the tasting at OWJ, nor about the glassware, nor the serving temperature. The only thing that I know about wine is that it is at base a very mysterious liquid, seemingly possessed of its own consciousness, and sensitive to everything – temperature, barometric pressure, phases of the moon, position of astral bodies, and of course the particular physiological/mental/spiritual state of the taster. I recommend to any purchaser of our wine: 1) Invest in some very nice stemware. (It’s the best investment you can make as far as optimizing your tasting experience.) 2) Serve the wine at appropriate temperature, 3) Give wine some time and attention. Taste it over a period of an hour or two, even over multiple days. Taste it with suitable foods, if you can, as this is truly wine’s highest aspiration.

    As an FYI, both Albarino and Muscat are Demeter-certified Biodynamic. Le Cigare Blanc grapes Demeter certified, beginning w/ the ’08 vintage, the wine in ’09. The ’09 Vin Gris also Demeter certified, and Cigare made from mostly Biodynamic grapes, but not yet certified. Cheers.

  3. Adam,

    Readers might also be interested to note that Randall just released a book, entitled Been Doon So Long, that documents his personal journey as a winemaker and discusses his pursuit of vins de terroir, which would most likely be appreciated by those in the biodynamic community.

    I work with Randall and watch every day as he struggles to make his words heard and philosophies understood ~ it’s inspiring. The website can be found at

    Alina Brown
    Digital Marketing Strategist, Bonny Doon Vineyard

  4. […] en el Organic Wine Journal, que el famoso productor y próspero empresario norteamericano, Randall Graham, está cumpliendo […]

  5. SargieAZ Avatar

    What are your thoughts on manipulations in wine versus the ingredients thing-Is OWJ cool with Micro-Ox, Funnels/Spinning, etc. Things not added to wine, but done to it. And can a wine be called Organic or Biodynamic if these processes are done ??

    1. Adam Morganstern Avatar
      Adam Morganstern

      Sargie, there are many arguments within the organic/biodynamic wine community about these and many other practices. The best thing we can do at the OWJ is to make people aware of the details, so people can decide what’s important to them when choosing a wine. Some consumers could care less about whether sulfites have been added, to others this prevents it from being a true organic wine. While many organic/biodynamic winemakers do not use the methods you brought up, there is a “natural” wine movement that takes up that very question; what’s the point of growing your grapes organically and then using the winery as a labratory to manipulate them?

      Officially, governments controls the standards about what is organic, and Demeter does the same for biodynamic. So, yes, in the U.S. a wine can still be organic after a lot of tinkering. It would be great if organic was a simple one-word solution to help people select their wines, but it’s just a good first step. Many in the wine trade use this to make organics sound overcomplicated, which it is not. It’s just takes a one or two more questions, since people are using the same phrase to describe different meanings.

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